Home Letters The court has not made a decision against the Govt
On Tuesday, April 12, the PPP held a protest next to the Ministry of the Presidency, claiming that my appointments of a Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) Chairpersons and Deputy Chairpersons were unlawful and dictatorial.
I can state unequivocally that I am proud to be part of an administration which held Local Government Elections (LGE) within 10 months of being elected to office. I am proud to be part of the government that placed decision-making power into the hands of the people by giving citizens the opportunity to elect persons from within their communities to manage local affairs.
Guyanese should never forget that it was the PPP that displayed blatant disrespect for citizens and contempt for the Constitution by denying the people the right to enjoy local democracy. We recall too that in the 2011 Manifesto, the PPP promised to hold LGE within one year of being elected, a promise on which they reneged. On the other hand, the coalition has demonstrated commitment to democratic norms by delivering on the promise of holding LGE.
Following the LGE of March 18, there were ties in seven Local Authority Areas – one municipality (Mabaruma) and six NDCs. In the spirit of inclusion, consultation and fairness, the Administration proposed to the PPP that leaders of the tied councils be decided by the party with the plurality of votes. The PPP rejected our proposal. It should be noted that had the PPP accepted, they would have been able to choose leaders in four of the tied local authority areas; the coalition would have chosen only three. Editor, in my opinion, this hardly qualifies as being anti-democratic or dictatorial.
After the PPP rebuffed our offer – acting on legal advice and our interpretation of Section 28 (7) of the Local Government Act, Chapter 28:02 and Section 13(8) of the Municipal and District Councils Act, Chapter 28:01– I proceeded to appoint leaders and deputy leaders of the Councils in question, from among those with the largest numbers of votes, as stipulated by the laws.
The Administration desires that local democracy be made a reality as quickly as possible, hence the holding of LGE within months of assuming office. Similarly, the appointment of council leaders was done to ensure that the work of those councils could begin and proceed apace to the benefit of the affected communities.
Clearly, the Government has demonstrated that we are committed to democracy, not dictatorship.
Finally, contrary to what is being said by PPP officials, including Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo, the courts have not made a decision against the Government as we are yet to be heard. What the courts have done was to grant an interim injunction without giving us a hearing. The PPP’s statements are, therefore, not only premature but misleading and untrue.
Minister of Communities